EXHAUSTED. Sarwin Ellonor Villamor (right), a ranking New People's Army leader operating in Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur surrendered along with his party wife, Jesel Bato Salahay on June 17, 2022 in Cabadbaran City. The couple says they turned themselves in due to exhaustion and hunger in the mountains. (Photo courtesy of 65IB)

BUTUAN CITY – A ranking New People’s Army (NPA) leader and his party wife recently surrendered to the intelligence units of the Army's  65th Infantry Battalion (65IB) and 36IB in Agusan del Norte.

In a statement Monday, 65IB said Sarwin Ellonor Villamor and Jesel Bato Salahay surrendered on June 17 in Barangay Mahaba, Cabadbaran City.

“The platoon of Villamor has been operating in the hinterlands of Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur,” the Army unit said.

It added that Villamor and his party wife handed over a .45 caliber pistol with defaced serial number, and a steel magazine loaded with six rounds of ammunition.

“Exhaustion and hunger due to sustained military operations in the area have forced Villamor and his wife to surrender,” 65IB said, adding the couple's colleagues who have earlier surrendered also influenced their decision to turn themselves in.
 
Lt. Col. Emerson De Vera, 65IB commander, assured the NPA couple of the support of the government after their surrender.

“They will be enrolled in the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program of the government to help them go back to their normal lives,” De Vera said.

In a separate interview on Monday, Maj. Francisco Garello, spokesperson of the Army's 4th Infantry Division, identified Villamor as the commander of a guerrilla unit under the NPA's North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee.

Garello said Villamor and his group operate in the communities in Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur.

The Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

The National Democratic Front has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (PNA)